Cork councillor challenged for 'uppity' remark about women's caucus 

Women on council hit back after Terry Shannon's suggestion they should not get 'uppity' about gender balance 
Cork councillor challenged for 'uppity' remark about women's caucus 

FF councillor Terry Shannon was challenged by members of Cork City Council's women's caucus after he suggested councillors should 'not get so uppity' about gender balance on a key committee. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A Fianna Fáil councillor has been urged to reflect on his language after suggesting that some female colleagues should not get so “uppity” over gender balance on council committees.

Terry Shannon was tackled by Solidarity councillor, Fiona Ryan, during a debate at this week’s city council meeting on the work of the council’s women's caucus, which was launched by six female councillors last year to improve the ability of women to work in the political system.

Women's caucus

Its chair, FF councillor, Mary Rose Desmond, briefed councillors about their plans for a webinar next week which will feature talks by Geraldine Byrne Nason, the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Jill Pitcher Farrell, the first female Chief Scout, Senator Eileen Flynn, the first Traveller woman to serve in the Oireachtas and Cllr Uruemu Adejinmi, the first African woman to be elected a mayor in Ireland.

'The anger that is shown across the board when women councillors dare to speak and push back on establishment narrative is very telling' said Solidarity councillor, Fiona Ryan. Picture: Denis Minihane
'The anger that is shown across the board when women councillors dare to speak and push back on establishment narrative is very telling' said Solidarity councillor, Fiona Ryan. Picture: Denis Minihane

Afterwards, An Rabharta Glas councillor, Lorna Bogue, pointed out the irony of the caucus having to report its work to the council through the all-male corporate policy group (CPG).

Mr Shannon said such structures are decided at the start of the council term, and he suggested that some councillors “not get so uppity” about the matter. Ms Ryan immediately tackled him, saying his language was “interesting and revealing”: 

The anger that is shown across the board when women councillors dare to speak and push back on establishment narrative is very telling. 

Ms Bogue said half the city’s population is female, and almost a quarter of the council is female, yet the powerful CPG has no female representation.

“When it comes to gender equality, I’m very uppity," she quipped. 

FG councillor, Joe Kavanagh, said there has been support from officials and councillors for the women’s caucus but added: “There is an underlying ‘them and us’ thing creeping in, and I don’t think it’s right.” 

Online event

The webinar, Women in local politics — Be the She Change, takes place on November 17 from 12pm to 1.30pm on CorkCity.ie, and anyone interested in attending is invited to register here on Eventbrite. 

As well as the speakers mentioned above, the online event will also feature a panel discussion with Ms Desmond, city council chief executive, Ann Doherty and former Lord Mayor of Cork, Catherine Clancy, moderated by Theresa Reidy of UCC's Department of Government and Politics.

The webinar will be interpreted by two Irish Sign Language interpreters.

Ms Desmond said the challenge of increasing the number of women in local politics isn’t going away.

“Women make up half of the population yet there aren’t anywhere enough of us at the tables where decisions are being made about our lives,” she said.

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